Bishop Sloan released a statement on March 23 in which he provided the pastoral guidance that we suspend corporate worship and other gatherings until May 1. As hard a decision as this is, I believe it to be the right one.
This means that we will not be able to gather together for Palm Sunday, Holy Week, or Easter, and our Lenten Lunches ministry will not resume in 2020 (Lenten Preaching sermons will continue to broadcast every weekday through the end of the season). Your communications team and clergy are working hard to ensure that these services continue and will be available to you via our website and other platforms.
Ministry has changed, not ceased. To that end, we are going to have to change the way we do things at the Advent. As much a blessing as livestreaming our 9:00 meeting and Dean’s Class is, it is not enough. And so, we are making the necessary adjustments to communicate the gospel to you in these extraordinary times. What will this look like?
Some years ago, I read a book called The Trellis and the Vine that asked, prophetically, what a church would do if all Sunday gatherings and weekday activities were suspended. The book’s authors, Tony Payne and Colin Marshall, sought to encourage churches to think beyond a service-oriented model to one that puts a premium on one-to-one discipleship and speaking God’s word directly to one another. In a word, a New Testament model for ministry.
Over the past few years, the Advent has attempted to respond to this call, equipping our folks to minister the gospel wherever God has placed them. As such, in light of the cancellation of any public gatherings, the Advent has an advantage over many other churches, but necessity requires that we accelerate the implementation of this type of ministry.
To that end, the Advent will be adopting a different pattern of doing church in order to better minister to one another. We are forming a team of 100 Shepherds who will be responsible for pastoring a smaller Flock of Adventers. As a Shepherd, they will be the pastoral point person for your flock. They will exercise a “word ministry” to you by calling you, praying with you, sharing God’s word with you, and leading you.
Beyond the 100 Shepherds, we are setting aside 10 Superintendents to each minister to their own group of 10 Shepherds. In turn, the clergy will be ministering to the Superintendents, as well as handling any unusual issues that may arise. This does not mean you will not have access to the clergy; it simply means that in these times, we have to function differently as a church.
Craig Smalley, Bethany Rushing, and Katherine Jacob will serve as leaders of our Servant Ministry. They will handle all “mercy ministries,” as needs of the Flocks arise that may be beyond the capability of the individual Shepherds. In addition, the Servants will be the folks to talk to if someone wants to volunteer to help others who are particularly vulnerable (i.e. grocery runs, yard work, etc.). Please continue watching this space for details as this ministry continues to develop and send us an email if you have any questions.
Brothers and sisters, this is a Kairos moment: a moment of decision where God has opened an extraordinary door. God, give us the courage to walk through it, that your people would grow deeper in their understanding of who they are in you and that those who do not know you would come to know you.
Now is not the time for trepidation. It is God’s will that we are called here, “for such a time as this,” and we respond to him by seeking his face, walking in his ways, and doing what he has called us to do.
Jesus is on his throne, the Lord of Hosts (heavenly Armies). Let us respond with confidence to his call upon us: “with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace” and taking up “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” For he is on our side, and no weapon formed against us shall prosper.
I join you in this gospel fight,
P.S. Your financial support during this season makes gospel ministry possible. Please click here to learn more about giving options.